If you find yourself asking, "How can lawmakers think this is acceptable?," then you probably don't want to see this recent Facebook comment from a Republican New Hampshire state representative.
Werner Horn represents Merrimack, District 2 of New Hampshire.
While we're not exactly familiar with the constituency there, we imagine most Merrimackians would have a problem with their representative claiming slavery wasn't rooted in racism.
But that's exactly what Horn did.
On a former New Hampshire state representative's Facebook post mocking criticisms of Trump's racism, Horn commented:
"Wait, owning slaves doesn't make you racist..."
"It shouldn't be surprising since owning slaves wasn't a decision predicated on race but on economics. It's a business decision."
The Western slave trade, after the Indigenous peoples of the Americas proved to be an insufficient slave labor pool, relied on kidnapping Africans, who were considered by White colonists to be subhuman, and forcing them on a treacherous journey to the Americas, where they would then be put to work as property. It was illegal to teach them to read or write or any other skill that didn't serve the sole purpose of performing labor for their masters.
It's estimated that millions died as a result.
"My comment specifically was aimed at a period of time when that was how you survived, that's how you fed your family," Horn told the Huffington Post.
"It wasn't 'I want to own a Black person today.' It was, 'I need to feed my family; I need five guys who can work stupidly long hours in the sun without killing themselves."
While Horn is correct in the assertion that slavery as a global practice throughout humankind's history hasn't always targeted Africans, to say that racism experienced throughout American history isn't rooted in slavery, or that slavery—especially in America—wasn't dictated by one's melanin is an inaccurate, reckless assertion.
During slavery, Black people were only considered three fifths of a person by the government. Segregation continued for a century after, in an effort to cement America's subjugation of Black people that began with slavery.
People were quick to call out Horn's ignorance.
@HuffPost NH should require this fool to take a college course in African-American history and government and pass… https://t.co/hEjXJmkFle— 🦄KiKi Little Bits (@🦄KiKi Little Bits)1563507270.0
@HuffPost This is factually untrue. Antebellum American chattel slavery was consciously and specifically based on race.— Kirsten Corby (@Kirsten Corby)1563506124.0
@HuffPost My Great-Great Grandmother was 12 when kidnapped from Guinea and brought to America on a Dutch Slaver. Th… https://t.co/rgYhMD3DPC— Anita Wills (@Anita Wills)1563506349.0
@HuffPost Why is it that so many people in this particular case not know when to shut up? We are not talking about… https://t.co/2yFVqUTQuR— TheMadRush (@TheMadRush)1563553562.0
@HuffPost The mental gymnastics these people do to justify their abhorrent positions....— Sunshinegal3271 (@Sunshinegal3271)1563513369.0
What a mess.
The issue for Werner Horn and many others with similar views are an ignorance of United States history based on a biased education that focused on myths and lies to preserve an attitude of American exceptionalism. But the truth of US history can only help people not make the same mistakes or make ignorant comments.